Know Your Competitors
Knowing Your Competitors
Running any business will always involve ensuring you not only support your own clients as best you can, it will also mean that you need to stay current and visible in the marketplace which will mean that you will have to periodically check out what your competitors are doing and how they are staying at the top of their game. Knowing what your competitors are offering, and who they are will assist you to make your own business products or services stand out. This knowledge will help you in setting prices and establishing services to consolidate your own place in the industry.
The first step in knowing your competitors is knowing your own business. It can be challenging, however try to step outside what you know and consider why clients would use your business in the first place. Ask yourself:
- What do I do that others don't? IE: Offer 24 hour response, free shipping, guaranteed work etc.
- Why is my business the best option for my clients? IE: Location, ease of use, price point.
- What is my main point of competition? IE: cost, service, local knowledge, turn around times etc.
If you can't seem to come up with results yourself consider asking reliable clients why they chose you and what they feel you offer to keep them loyal to you. Ask for constructive input and listen. We are typically very defensive of our own businesses and we should be, however if you ask a question you have to be prepared to learn from the answer. Don't forget to reward your clients for their input.
Once you know these key points, you can know how and where your business is placed in the market. More importantly you will have developed a good idea of specifically why your business is successful. This information is important to know because prior to investigating any of your competitors you need to know what information is worth paying attention to and what can be discarded as not relevant. It's easy to get hung up on something a competitor is offering, however if it's not suitable to your own clients you could spend valuable time and money on an action that won't work. Now you are ready to check out your competitors.
Identify Your Competitors:
The first step will be to make a simple list of the current competitors you know about. It's also worth investigating new competitors. You could use Google to search for industry competitors via location using Google Maps, using a keyword search or even a social media search. A great tool Google has for finding competitors website is to search using the related term. IE: In the search box type "related:https//www.yourwebsite.com" and Google will show you what it considers to be the most similar websites. It's not always local and doesn't always show anything but it's worth trying.
What you are actually looking for:
- what services or products they sell
- how do they market these services to their customers
- what is their pricing structure
- how do they deliver their product or service
- do they offer customer loyalty plans and if so which ones
- what are their guarantees?
- how many contact options they offer their clients (web, email, phone, social media etc)
- what are their strengths and weaknesses?
- what types of clients they're targeting
- what new products or 'coming soon' services are on the horizon
Now that you have all the info in hand, you need to evaluate the information. Start with breaking the information you have gathered into groups.
- What are they doing worse than you?
- What are the similarities between your businesses?
- What do they do that you can learn from?
Learning And Improving
If there are obvious areas in which they are better than your business you need to make some changes to address your shortfall. It could be reassessing shipping costs, extending customer service hours, looking at your pricing structure or modernising your website.
Remember to apply the principle to your products or services. Don't directly copy what your competitor is doing - work out how you can customise this action for your business and customers.
Exploit Their Weaknesses
You have identified what they are less competitive on, now you need to make the most of that and insert yourself into the gap they have created. Again it could be offering a better range of services or implementing a customer retention process. If there is a gap and you can fill it, take action to make that happen. Remember to make sure you aren't committing valuable time and energy if that gap isn't something your business can benefit from.
Improve On Your Own Strengths
There will always be competitors in the market, however it's important that you don't lose sight of your own strengths. Whatever you do well, improve on. Lessen the similarities by delivering better and turn your clients into raving fans.